Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Water and Electricity Blues

Agriculture needs water. Indeed it is the biggest consumer of water in India. So when Subhadra bought her piece of farm land she had to see how to get water to it. We took a hydrogeologist to the farm and he said that the underlying rock strata were not water bearing ones and we would get only a little water from an open well and probably none from a deep borewell. The problem was that even an open well would have to be of at least 10 meter diameter to give enough water for at least one irrigation which is what would be required as Subhadra was going to practice less water use agriculture. The farm is small and so digging a 10 meter well would reduce the area even further. Eventually after a lot of thought she decided to take the risk of sinking a borewell postponing the digging of an open well to the time when she could get possession of some more contiguous farm land in the near future. Luckily the borewell yielded a little bit of water. Enough that is for one irrigation and watering of plants through a drip system.
Then the problem started. Initially we put in an old submersible pump borrowed from another farmer that was of low power and it would draw water very slowly at a rate equal to the rate at which water was flowing into the tube well and so things were alright. A tank would be filled up on top of a hill and then water would be taken by gravity for watering the plants. Then the farmer who had given us this pump decided to take it back for his own farm. So we bought another pump. This one was a high power pump. The farmer from whom we had bought the land and who takes care of the farm on a daily basis said that with a high power pump the extra drawal of water would slowly increase the flow into the well. Though we said that this is unlikely he said that there had been innumerable such instances in the area and this should be tried out. Despite our misgivings we bought a high power pump and our travails started. The farm is situated about 250 meters from the nearest electricity pole. Since the supply in the main line itself is weak from the grid, the electric line to the pump when it is in the hole about 80 meters under ground a further 330 meters results in a huge drop in power over this distance. The earthing too in the transformer on the main line was not proper. So the heavier pump that we had bought did not work. We had a pump mechanic make some changes to motor and the pump began working but it would finish off the water in the well in just a few minutes and then draw in sand and choke itself!! The farmer who was handling the pump in our absence did not understand this and kept putting on the motor to make it run and it got burnt in the process!! We got the motor repaired but once again the farmer in his pursuit of the non-existent burst of water flow tried to run the pump even after the water in the well had finished and got it burnt again!!! Finally now the farmer has reconciled himself to the fact that there is only a little water in the well and we will have to adjust to that.
This farmer looks on bemused as Subhadra practices her bio-diverse agriculture and talks of making do with only a little water and planting dry land wheat, gram and amaranth in the coming winter season with only one watering or may be no watering at all. He is crestfallen that the borewell has not yielded enough water for him to be able to sow water intensive hybrid wheat on his farm next to ours!! We have done considerable soil and water conservation work on our farm so that not even one drop of water and soil leaves it. So there is considerable soil moisture conserved and in all probability the winter crop can be sown without any initial watering and will only require some sprinkler irrigation later on if at all. The output of such dryland winter agriculture however is less than the heavily watered and chemically fertilised hybrid cultivation because that is what the soil can sustainably deliver. Farmers traditionally understood this but that understanding has now gone due to the past five decades of chemical agriculture pushed with heavy subsidies. Now chemical fertilisers, water and electricity have all become expensive and scarce and agriculture is collapsing. Farmers, are still desperate to produce the same yields and are catching at straws instead of going back to holistic and sustainable agriculture because the government is not providing subsidies for doing so.

1 comment:

arjun said...

nice... would like to see some snaps of the place